With the Constitution remaining silent on the number of days a State Legislature should sit in a year, the working days in Odisha Assembly are getting leaner over the years.
From a high of average 44 days per year a decade ago, the number in 2021 shrunk to around 31 days. And recording another historic truncated session, the Odisha Assembly 2021 winter session was adjourned sine die 20-days ahead of the scheduled working days.
Prior to this, the State Legislative Assembly's winter session in 2020 had been cut short by around a month. In November last year, the House was adjourned 30-days ahead of the actual working schedule.
As per the data available with the Odisha State Legislative Assembly, during the 14th and15th assembly periods, the House had been adjourned sine die on a majority of occasions in the State, but the curtailment was in the range of 4-12 days. Data shows the record of 16th Odisha Assembly performance has been very poor as the curtailment is now ranging between 20-30 days.
Odisha Assembly Sittings
As per the State Assembly data, the 16th Assembly (current Assembly) that came into existence in June 2019, had a total sittings of around 100 days during the period of 2019 - 21.
In the 15th Assembly period, the year 2014 saw only 2 sessions - Budget and Winter, as the election results were declared on May 13, 2014. And the new Assembly was constituted in June 2014. The number of actual working days in 2014 had been 33 days.
However, the number of actual working days in the year 2015, when the House assembled for three sessions - Budget, Monsoon and Winter, had been 47 days. The average sitting during the period of 2014-2019 had been over 40 days.
Poor Show In Current Assembly?
Cut down to the 16th Assembly, the first year of the current Assembly despite sitting only two sessions - Budget and Winter, as the Assembly was constituted in May 2019, had a total of 37 working days.
The story had then turned turtle for the last two years. While Covid-19 impacted house sittings in the 2020 monsoon session, when the session had only 9 working days, the winter session could sit for only 10-days.
As a consequence, the Odisha State Assembly could sit for only around 27 days in 2020.
With December being the signing off month of the year 2021, the total working days of the Odisha Assembly during the whole year had only been around 35 days.
The miserable show is self-revealing as the State Assembly had 37 working days in two sessions in 2019 vis-a-vis only 35 days in three sessions.
In the last 10-years, the number of working days had been the lowest in year 2020, and it has been second lowest in the year 2021.
A glance at the data available on Assembly Sessions held since 2009 reveals that the average number of sittings in Odisha Assembly hovered between 43-44 days, but in the last 3-years of the 16th Assembly, the average sitting days shrunk to around 31 days.
The big takeaway is Odisha legislators in the 16th Assembly had been sitting only for 31 of 365 days.
A glance at Odisha Assembly data since 2008 reveals that in a majority of years, the winter session of the State Assembly saw curtailment, though in 2008 session proceedings were saved at the altar of the Minister's resignation.
2008: Just rewind the clock. It was the winter session in 2008, when the Opposition Congress gunning at the then Revenue Minister and minister from BJP quota, Manmohan Samal, over an alleged sex scandal, stalled the proceedings of the House from Nov 27- Dec 4.
Speaking in the House, CM Naveen Patnaik asked for evidence from the Opposition and gave details about the alleged incident, Patnaik then said on the floor of the house that no untoward report had been received against Minister Samal.
However, bowing to unrelenting Opposition Congress, the CM later asked the BJP Minister to put down his papers.
2014: Odisha Assembly was adjourned sine die by the then Speaker Niranjan Pujari, 12 days ahead of schedule, owing to pandemonium and protests since the start of the winter session by Opposition - Congress and BJP - with a single point demand for a discussion on the chit-fund scam issue.
2020: Creating a record of sorts in the Odisha assembly history, the winter session that started in November was adjourned sine die 30-days ahead of the schedule. Opposition stalled the proceedings on the Nayagarh Minor (Pari) murder and the resignation of Minister Arun Sahoo, after the parents of the minor girl made a suicide bid before the State Assembly.
The curtailment of the working days has an obvious impact on the debate over bills and people's issues. Though, the Odisha Assembly has a rule of a minimum of 60 days sitting.
While the average duration of the discussions on the bills in 2009-11 was in the range of 6-18 hours, as many as 5 bills, including the Appropriation Bill, in the 16th Assembly were passed without any discussion.